By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Following the shooting death of a 13-year-old over the weekend, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday, recounted his visit to Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School, where the victim, Jaylon Palmore, was an eighth-grader.
“What I told them is that I love them. I said that out loud . . . we should say we love our children,” Woodfin said.
Before 3 p.m. Saturday, Palmore and an adult were shot in East Birmingham. Palmore later died at Children’s of Alabama Hospital. Palmore is the youngest homicide victim in Birmingham this year and the sixth teenage homicide victim.
While at the middle school, Woodfin said one student stuck out. “[The child] wanted to know, ‘How are y’all going to solve this case?’ He used a different form of words, but that was the gist of what he was saying, which was hard to answer because it required me to be honest with him and his classmates,” Woodfin said. “My number one job is to protect [the children], no different than their superintendent and their principal, and if [there is] anything I can do as their mayor.”
Woodfin said he spoke to the children informally, wanting to understand what they felt.
“I just went to the various classrooms, a more intimate setting. We’ve all been 13 and 14. They’re not going to talk a lot. I think we all know that, but I had a chance to look most of them in their eyes and just get a pulse of how they feel,” Woodfin said.
Woodfin also said the children at Ossie Ware can use their counselors if they don’t feel comfortable talking to the mayor or other people.
The other teens killed in the city since the start of the year are 16-year-olds Jeremiah Collier; Todd Lorenzo Johnson Jr.; Yasmine Wright; 17-year-old Javarius Reid and 18-year-old De’Undray Nakil Haggard.
Last month, 17-year-old Chico Guest was shot and killed but the shooting was later ruled a “justifiable homicide” by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
The day of his visit to Ossie Ware, Aven Deione Mitchell, 21, and Tamaiya Morton, 26, were also shot and killed in separate incidents in Birmingham. In all, there have been 28 homicides in the city since the beginning of 2022.
Woodfin and Birmingham Police Department Acting Chief Scott Thurmond on Tuesday stressed the importance of the community’s help in solving murders.
“Our detectives’ rate of speed and ability to solve a case, to bring any form of justice to a family that’s lost a family member, in this case a 13-year-old child, depends on the public’s ability and witnesses’ ability or anyone with information’s to come forward,” Woodfin said.
“There are a lot of hurting families in our community and it’s incumbent upon our community members to come forward and assist us with these cases. Just as the mayor said, we can’t police our way out of this,” said Thurmond.
Thurmond said the murders are senseless and provided an example.
“Somebody gets mad and decides to shoot someone over an argument. Is that worth losing your life over? I don’t think so. I had a man killed over a Styrofoam cooler years ago…That’s how silly these homicides are,” Thurmond said.
Anyone with information on the homicides can anonymously call Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama at (205) 254-7777.